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The empowered marketer – yesterday, today, and tomorrow

Technology and the Internet are changing the way consumers and marketers interact with each other. This is the second of a two part post about how consumers and marketers provide and consume information leading to purchases. The first post focused on the empowered consumer. In this post I’ll discuss the empowered marketer and how marketers can use technology that is readily available to better target and reach consumers. I close with some thoughts about how marketers will reach consumers in the future.

In the past, marketers followed the classic steps of segmentation, targeting, and positioning to create and distribute content to an audience. The output was an ad, promotion, informational piece, etc. that was fanned out to audiences as a ‘push’.  I use the word ‘push’ because the marketer picked their medium and broadcast the message to anyone who used that medium. The message itself was a one- size-fits-all for that particular customer segment.

Today, the marketer uses tools to take a more sophisticated look at customer data when deciding on their message. This allows marketers to create more refined target segments and more sophisticated positioning techniques. Here are some examples:

  • Access to customer past purchases and profile information. This in itself isn’t new. But today’s marketer is able to see a consolidated view of this data regardless of the channel that the consumer used in the past.  The advantage of this is that it gives the marketer a more complete customer profile and the ability to complete an enterprise wide customer segmentation strategy.
  • Access to customer and prospect preferences through analysis of onsite behavior. Customer preferences are not limited to what the customer has purchased in the past. Within the Internet channel, marketers can now track browsing patterns independent of purchases. These preferences can be used to tailor the web browsing experience for both customers and prospects.  Notice how top retailers like Amazon use sections like “more items to consider” and “customers who viewed this also viewed”.  The items in these areas are based on the behaviors and browsing patterns previously exhibited by the consumer.
  • Access to analytics modeling that predicts future behaviors.  This sounds a little like the last point about predicting customer preferences. The difference is that this type of data modeling will look at customer purchases to predict something a customer might do in the future. Here’s a simple example from the banking industry. If a customer does not have any transactions in their checking account in the last four months then this could be an indicator they may close all of their accounts and move them to another institution in the future.  Other examples might predict if a customer is likely to accept an offer for opening a home equity line of credit based on the other accounts open and usage patterns.
  • Access to customer reviews. While consumers use customer reviews to help make purchasing decisions, marketers can also use customer reviews to improve and refine their product or service. It’s like an instant survey where the marketer gets feedback to help them with future messages.

    With all of this information, today’s marketer should be developing one-to-one marketing messages. These are messages that are customized for the particular customer on their web site.  Marketers can send messages that talk to a customer for who they are and what they like.

    What does your personal messaging say?

    What does your personal messaging say?

    What does the future hold? I have a few ideas of where we are headed:

    1. Web sites will follow the example of search engines and use the current location of a visitor to determine what content to show. In addition to using the zip code of the customer profile, Internet marketers will also begin to use the IP address of the visitor to determine their location and the resulting content. One example of how this could be powerful is to tie the recommendation and ad content into the weather forecast for the coming days in that area.
    2. Marketers will be developing and expanding messages and content made to fit within mobile devices.
    3. As consumers move towards voice operated search and navigation, marketers will respond with content and messaging to display in that environment.
    4. Marketers will base content and messaging based on choices the consumer did not make in the past. So instead of focusing on the positive decisions made, marketers will infer consumer preferences on those things they previously offered that the consumer did not choose.